The Sixers desperately needed a win, and they went out there and took it from Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers and possibly the most incompetent group of referees I've ever had the displeasure of watching. Big, big win. Blake Griffin is going to wish he never has to face Elton Brand again when he blows out the candles on his birthday cake tonight.
Charts (rotations coming later)
- The officiating in this game was deplorable. I usually don't comment on the refs once the game is over, because I think they rarely decide the outcome of a game, but tonight they were bad enough to take a win away from the Sixers. I mention them tonight because I think coming out in the third quarter, after the way the second quarter ended, and absolutely putting the Clippers away in the third was a huge gut-check moment for the Sixers. They could've folded. They could've pouted. They could've displayed an immaturity certain teams and players fall back on when the calls don't go their way and given this game away. They went in the opposite direction and shoved it right down the Clippers throats. That says a lot about the character of this team, especially after Collins was tossed, in a game they had to have.
- Player of the game really could've gone to Meeks (22 pts on 7/12 from the floor with 6 boards, 3 dimes, 1 steal and 0 turnovers) or Jrue (20 pts on 8/12 from the floor with 4 boards, 9 assists, 3 turnovers and really excellent play on both sides of the ball the entire second half), but when it comes right down to it, Elton Brand was by far the best big man in this game. He physically dominated Blake Griffin to the point where I thought Griffin was going to cry. When he wasn't manhandling the chosen one, he was coming from the weak side to block every shot he saw. When he wasn't blocking shots, he was grabbing boards. When he wasn't grabbing boards, he was showing hard on the pick-and-roll (later in the game). He was all over the floor tonight, and really set the tone for the entire team, especially after the half.
- The bench was absolutely, positively horrible tonight. Collectively, they had more personal fouls (12) than made field goals (8). Nocioni managed an admirable -11 in only 7 minutes of play. Turner was a non-factor. Lou was detrimental, for the most part, though he did have one stretch where he was making his bad shots. Overall, a game to forget for the bench brigade.
- I'd be remiss if I didn't mention three humongous plays Jrue made to put this game away. Early in the fourth, the Clippers made a run when Collins was using a Jrue, Lou and Turner on the perimeter. As usual, Jrue was standing in the corner while Lou dribbled the air out of the ball. On one particular possession, Turner missed a long two, and Jrue snuck into the lane to grab an offensive board. He dribbled out to the perimeter to reset the offense, then drove right, all the way to the baseline. When three Clippers collapses on him, he kicked the ball cross-court for a wide-open Lou three, which Lou nailed. That put an end to a 10-0 Clipper run and pushed the Sixer lead back to double digits. The sad thing here is that Jrue only got to run the offense after grabbing the offensive board and basically setting it back up himself. Every play prior to that in the fourth was for Lou to "initiate." I get why Collins, or Curry in this case, is hesitant to give the kid the ball in the fourth, he did have a couple of turnovers late tonight, but when the offense is stagnant, and Jrue is having a great game, throw caution to the wind. The kid can get the job done and I still think Jrue penetration is the absolute best thing this team does in the half court, when he's on.
- Kudos to Collins for getting tossed. It was absolutely called for and seemed to light a fire under his team.
- Blake Griffin is going to have to get a whole hell of a lot tougher if/when the Clippers ever make it to the playoffs. He crumbled to the Sixers physical interior defense tonight, and the Sixers are far from a stout team up front.
- That's all I've got. This was very, very important game and the Sixers stood tall. Up Next: DeMarcus Cousins, who may try to stab someone if the Sixers give him the same treatment Blake Griffin got tonight.
Player of The Game: Elton Brand
Team Record: 35-33
Up Next: @ SAC, Friday night
Playoff Race: Tied w/ NYK for 6th, 4 games back of ATL for 5th.